Dead Island Review
Though it has a fair share of issues, those who play Dead Island to its strengths will get a lot of mileage for the price
Dead Island is an open world survival role-playing game developed by Techland and published by Deep Silver. This title had a huge impact thanks to its reveal trailer that won numerous awards. This set the bar almost nigh unobtainable before the game was even released. Dead Island was released for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC platforms with a variety of bugs that even resulted in crashes and corrupted save files. Even though this game did not live up to the hype created by its infamous trailer, but it is a solid experience for zombie and role playing game fanatics alike.
The premise of Dead Island tells the tired story of a group of individuals who must fight for survival against an onslaught of zombies as they search for a way to escape their island prison. This story is a staple for zombie games and do not expect this game to diverge from those roots. You get to play as one of four characters with a small back story and individual characteristics. The character I chose to play was a disgraced football player, who is skilled at throwing objects (go figure). This is a nice little bit of exposition that adds a feeling of narrative to the experience, but it does taper off as events go on. The story is advanced through quests and cut scenes primarily; though you can find scattered magazines and tapes that help outline events leading up to the initial campaign. The cut scenes are very disjointed and did not seem to add much to the story except a campiness factor that some may enjoy. Dead Island’s story is not going to be a gripping emotional suspense tale that many were led to believe with its reveal, but it does get the job done if you do not focus on the details too much.
Like most survival action games, the heart of Dead Island is in its gameplay. This game takes roleplaying elements and combines them with first person shooting and item collection creating an experience reminiscent of a watered down Borderlands. Dead Island has you in a first person view bashing, shooting, and stomping heads as you collect items with differing rarities and properties. The game has two primary types of weapons: melee and guns. Even though there are guns, you will find yourself relying on melee weapons more often than not. There is a wide variety of items - from pipes to wrenches and even hat stands - as you progress through the campaign. Each item (bar guns) are able to be thrown with varying effectiveness. As an example a hat stand is not going to impede the progress of a giant zombie thug, while a machete to the head might. Blunt items are obviously better for bashing heads in, but cutting weapons can be used to cut off arms giving you an advantage in tough situations. The gameplay is very clunky unfortunately. Your movements are very stiff and you can find yourself getting stuck on terrain or have delayed movements causing unnecessary deaths. The throwing mechanic was also a particular nuisance to me. Countless deaths were had because I was trying to throw a weapon, but my character instead thrashed about. There is also a weapon upgrade and customization interface that adds even more strategy. There is some good gameplay, but it is marred with lackluster controls.
Dead Island has an experience and quest system similar to those used in Bethesda games. The quests reward you experience and a chance at receiving rare items. These quests tend to follow the stale formula of kill said monster or fetch said item, but there are a few unique ones that stand out. Just like Oblivion, you level up together with the enemies, so players will never overpower foes in an area. For this game this is actually a good design choice. Zombies are always a threat and you can never overpower them and because of all the backtracking you will be doing, you will always be on your toes never letting your guard down.
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